Fishing Paradise: Juneau Caters to Both Saltwater and Freshwater Anglers

Since Juneau is the only state capital you can’t reach by car, it should come as no surprise it’s a dream destination for anglers.

Whether you want to head out to sea in search of halibut or salmon or want to try your luck flyfishing for trout or spawning salmon, Juneau provides options that let you fish to your heart’s content.

Get ready for your trip

hotel in juneau

When you stay at the Frontier Suites, you can cook up your catch of the day. If you’ve got too much to eat, pop them in the hotel’s freezer. That way you can take your fish – and bragging rights – home to impress friends and neighbors.
In addition to your fishing gear, be sure to bring warm, waterproof clothes.

Juneau is wet. It rains or snows on about 230 days each year. High temperatures range from 35 degrees in January to 63 degrees in July.

You’ll have plenty of daytime for fishing. In June, Juneau has about 18 hours of daylight, compared to 6 or 7 each day from November through January.

And, be sure to get the proper fishing license before you try to catch anything. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game makes it easy to buy your license online before your trip even starts. Alaska requires licenses for both saltwater and freshwater fishing.

Juneau fishing: Saltwater expeditions

juneau fishing

Juneau has several Coast Guard-licensed fishing charters that offer full- or half-day excursions.

Choose a company that operates smaller boats that take no more than six passengers. That will provide you with the most dedicated fishing time.

Decide what you want to catch. Are you going for the experience and don’t really care what you get? Or have you dreamed of hooking a halibut, king salmon or sea bass? If you’re determined to bag a specific kind of fish, book the right charter.

Book early. Fishing charters are popular and fill up quickly. Most companies start taking reservations in January for spring and summer excursions.

Species Season

Peak availability

King salmon

July and August

Early August

Sockeye salmon

Mid-June through August

July

Coho salmon (varies with rivers)

Mid-August through mid-November

Mid-September through mid-October

Pink salmon

Mid-July through August

Chum salmon (varies with rivers)

Mid-July through mid-October

Mid-July through mid-September

Dolly Varden

All year

Mid-April through May and mid-August through October

Steelhead trout

April through mid-June

May

Pacific Halibut

All year

May through September

Source: Alaska Outdoors Supersite

If you’re planning to saltwater fish on your own, FishingBooker recommends exploring these areas:

  • Auke Bay: Most charters dock in the bay, but you also can fish there and have an excellent chance to catch king, sockeye, coho, and pink salmon.
  • Gastineau Channel: The calm water between the mainland and Douglas Island offers opportunities to catch halibut and several salmon species.
  • The Breadline: North of Juneau, the area near the Breadline is home to king salmon and halibut.
  • Chatham Strait: If you’re willing to travel for more than two hours, the deep waters of Chatham Strait hold huge halibut.

juneau fishing

Most salmon species and steelhead trout are born in freshwater. They live most of their lives in saltwater but return to freshwater streams to spawn.  Salmon and most other fish die soon after spawning.

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Juneau fishing: Freshwater adventures

If your heart is set on freshwater fishing, you can try your luck off Alaska’s shore or on one of its many rivers or lakes. You can head out on your own or hire a fishing guide.

Juneau also offers options to rent fishing tackle.

Species

Season

Peak availability

King salmon

July and August

Early August

Sockeye salmon

Mid-June through August

July

Coho salmon (varies with rivers)

Mid-August through mid-November

Mid-September through mid-October

Pink salmon

Mid-July through August

Chum salmon (varies with rivers)

Mid-July through mid-October

Mid-July through mid-September

Dolly Varden

All year

Mid-April through May and mid-August through October

Steelhead trout

April through mid-Jun

May

Rainbow trout

All year

Cutthroat trout

All year

Mid-June through mid-September

Brook trout

All year

Grayling

All year

Kokanee

All year

Source: Alaska Outdoors Supersite

Trying to decide where to cast your line? While there are many options, FishingBooker suggests these spots:

  • Montana Creek: This creek is easy to reach and offers fly-fishing opportunities to catch all five salmon species as well as both cutthroat and steelhead trout.
  •  Windfall Lake: Which is far enough from Juneau not to be too crowded offers chances to catch sockeye, coho, and pink salmon, plus Dolly Varden and both cutthroat and steelhead trout.

Ready to head home?

The experts advise you against trying to ship your fish home via FedEx or UPS.

juneau fishing

Instead, plan to take your catch home on your flight. Wash, clean and gut fresh fish before placing filet in airtight, vacuum sealed or plastic freezer bags. Be sure to leave your fish at least overnight in the Frontier Suites freezer to be sure they are frozen solid.

Fill your fish box with frozen fish and plan to check it with your luggage. Under Transportation Security Administration rules, frozen fish and seafood are permitted in both carry-on and checked bags. But to get through the security screening, ice or ice packs in the container must be frozen solid. If there’s any liquid in the container or if the ice or ice packs have started melting, they are prohibited.

Because the cargo holds on most planes have minimal heat, your fish should stay safely frozen. Ask to have your fish box placed in a freezer between flights if you have a layover that lasts more than six hours.

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